A new flexible, transparent electrical device inspired by electric eels could lead to body-friendly power sources for implanted health monitors and medication dispensers, augmented-reality contact lenses, and countless other applications, researchers report.
The soft cells—made of hydrogel and salt—form the first potentially biocompatible artificial electric organ that generates more than 100 volts. It produces a steady buzz of electricity at high voltage but low current, a bit like an extremely low-volume but high-pressure jet of water. It could be enough to power a small medical device like a pacemaker.
While the technology is preliminary, Michael Mayer, a professor of biophysics at the Adolphe Merkle Institute of the University of Fribourg in Switzerland and the paper’s corresponding author, believes it may one day be useful for powering implantable or wearable devices without the toxicity, bulk, or frequent recharging that come with batteries.